Could do with a little TLC
Frisco, 1962. It feels like you have been locked up here forever, in Alcatraz, the most notorious of all maximum-security prisons. Never has anyone escaped from this prison alive. But with all preparations in place, tonight might be your chance. But beware: An opportunity does not automatically lead to success. Out in the bay, the tide is murderous and the sharks are hungry. You have to avoid the guards and keep a clear head to make your escape attempt a success.
After the surprisingly enjoyable Haunted, we were very much looking forward to tackling the next room at Adventox. A prison break is a common theme amongst Escape Rooms (The Prison and Prison Break] to name a few) and incredibly we’ve come across others based specifically on the infamous San Francisco institution before as well (Alcatraz to name just one), but each one of these games, despite having a similar theme, always manages to bring something new to the table.
After a brief wait out in reception, we were met by our host, Emilia, and given our health and safety talk, just in case we had missed anything before. This time, our vision was obscured by blindfolds as we were led to our cells.
While this was no Sean Connery/Nicholas Cage style escape from The Rock, Alcatraz was an enjoyable game, but ultimately fell a little bit flat for us at the end.
As is common amongst prison themed rooms, we were separated at first, and as one would expect in these situations, puzzles at the start relied heavily on teamwork and communication, but as well as a padlock here or there, you might find yourself needing to think outside the box.
In general, puzzles were logical and on theme. In fact, we mostly found ourselves floundering when we failed to search properly, which is pretty usual for me. We did require one clue near the start, for which I now feel completely stupid, as I was in the process of doing exactly what needed to be done, but when I couldn’t get any further, assumed I was wrong. This particular ‘puzzle’ has since become one of the more memorable moments for me in any prison game. I never would have thought to do this on my own, but it did make perfect sense, and was just very clever.
The game unfolded in a relatively linear fashion, but surprisingly, we didn’t find ourselves standing around with most of the team watching one or two others solve a puzzle, even with a group of four. There is plenty to explore, and take in, and while you may not be able to complete something until you finish the task ahead of it, you would be able to get a sense of what you need to do next.
Theming for Alcatraz was as you might expect for a prison room – barred cells, uncomfortable looking beds, etc., but as Alcatraz was an active prison in the 60’s, Adventox have chosen 1962 as the year to base the set decor, and with that, the team have done a good job of making the set feel a bit 60’s, with very little that could be considered to be modern creeping in.
Adventox have really tried for the immersive feel: there is no timer, clues are delivered in character, puzzles fit with the theming, and the set felt of the era they were going for. From the description on the website, I was expecting a live-actor element, (“You have to avoid the guards”) but we didn’t experience that; either that isn’t part of the game, or we did something in our gameplay to avoid it.
One thing I will mention, despite being locked in cells, and playing as a team of four, I never felt cramped. I normally prefer to play as just a two, due precisely to this reason, but there was only one point where the space narrowed, and even with a larger team this wouldn’t have been too uncomfortable (though I would probably recommend playing with no more than five, max, due to linear game play.)
Help is always available from a nearby prisoner; Patricia in our case. We had a few moments of idiocy, and Patricia always helpfully chimed in with her questionable American accent to help us get back on track.
I do love an integrated clue system, so in character hints are always appreciated, and our GM was on the ball with offering assistance when requested, or just offering a timely piece of advice when we might be struggling. This normally happens when we fail to search properly, and this room was no exception.
Alcatraz was a solid, enjoyable game, but it ultimately fell a bit flat for us. It’s tough to put a finger on exactly what it was; whether it was the ending in general, or just the fact that it wasn’t quite as much fun as Haunted – The Case of Doctor Stevens, I’m not quite sure.
Team: 4 players – escaped in 45:16 with two clues
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